U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Glocks have a legendary reputation for both reliability and durability. This makes them very well-suited for a wide variety of tasks ranging from casual plinking and competition shooting to law enforcement and military use. Because of these attributes, the black polymer pistol quickly became one of the most prolific handguns in both America and abroad.
This popularity doesn’t just pay dividends to Gaston Glock’s namesake company – it also spawned an enormous aftermarket parts industry, allowing shooters to fully customize their Glock to suit their needs.
But with so many options available, it becomes very tough for shooters to separate the junk from the gems. Especially given the fact that price isn’t a reliable indication of the quality or utility of any given accessory – Just ask anyone who bought a pistol bayonet.
So while the pistol bayonet might not serve any real purpose, most accessories for the Glock do. Though, some are better suited to certain situations than others. That’s why upgrade guides for the Glock that list the best trigger, or best ammunition – all-around best anything – should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Which is why this guide only concentrates on tuning the pistol for a very specific task – home defense. God forbid anyone actually be attacked in their home, and is forced to use their firearm for self-defense. But the unfortunate reality is that it does happen. And when it does happen, a person’s weapon, their resolve, and training are the only things standing between their family and an unspeakable tragedy.
That said, picking upgrades or accessories for a home defense weapon must never be done haphazardly. Every component must objectively increase the user’s odds of survival. To further clarify, no attachments or upgrades should affect any of the following four aspects of the gun’s design: reliability, durability, safety or effectiveness.
Using these basic tenants as guidelines, I’ve assembled two different Glock builds that forge the already formidable Glock handgun into a nearly perfect home defense weapon.
The first of these two builds is a more budget-friendly, non-NFA regulated option. Nothing in this list is cheap, but some of the items are less expensive than alternatives without compromising the gun’s core capabilities.
Just in case shooters haven’t actually decided on a specific Glock pistol, for the budget guide I’m going to recommend a 9mm full or compact handgun – the model 17 or 19. Which isn’t to say that a .40 S&W or .45 ACP Glock is inferior, but in my experience when combined with modern defensive ammo, 9mm parabellum offers the best balance of capacity, controllability, affordability and terminal efficacy.
For my particular build, I’ve chosen my personal third-generation Glock 17. This gun has proven itself to be 100% reliable after 25,000 rounds fired. The internal components are mostly original, but I did have a Glock armorer replace the recoil spring at a GSSF match a few years ago around the 18,000 round mark.
The reason I haven’t upgraded to a gen 4 or 5, is because I have thousands of hours of muscle memory on this gun to the point that it feels like a natural extension of my hand. It’s also the same model of Glock that I first learned to shoot nearly 20 years ago.
But personal experience isn’t the only reason to go with a full-sized handgun. Because they have more mass than smaller pistols, larger guns have less recoil. This means getting follow-up shots on target is faster, and easier.
Additionally, the added barrel length squeezes more velocity from the 9mm round. For rounds like 9mm that rely more on velocity than projectile weight, this added speed makes defensive ammunition more likely to fully expand and dump its energy into a target.
Lastly, the full-length slide equates to a great sight radius. AKA, how far apart the front and rear sights are. The advantage of this is that it allows for finer aiming and potentially greater accuracy. Though within the confines of a house, the advantage of this is questionable.
Sights: Glock OEM Tritium Night Sight
There are several schools of thought on combat pistol sights. Some people prefer bright fiber optics, others like old school serrated steel, and some people even like aperture style sights.
For me, the perfect iron sights are those that are effective regardless of lighting conditions. Ideally, they should also reinforce good shooting habits like proper sight alignment.
This is why I normally choose Glock’s white tritium iron sights for serious use handguns. Constructed of stainless steel and finished with a black corrosion-resistant finish, these sights are offered on many newer Glock handguns.
They are dimensionally almost identical to older OEM polymer sights but have a few key advantages over them. For starters, the tritium inserts make the irons glow a pale green color in low or no light conditions. This is critical for obtaining a proper sight picture on these conditions.
That said, I recommend shooters with factory sights on their pistol just purchase the front sight post without the rear notch. Besides being around half the cost of the set, this configuration forces the shooter’s eye to focus on the front sight where it belongs. This might seem counter-intuitive for low light shooting, but home invasion encounters are statistically very close range. And within these ranges, any disadvantage of not being able to align sights in total darkness is negated. Visit Brownells for more info and availability.
Controls: Glock OEM Extended Slide and Magazine Release
For some shooters, the controls on a Glock are a little out of reach – especially on older models that don’t feature interchangeable back straps. I personally have smaller-sized hands and find that on my Gen 3 Glock 17, I have to shift my shooting grip to drop a spent magazine or release the slide.
In a defensive situation where a shooter’s heart is practically beating out of their chest, fine motor skills often go right out the window. This can equate to a shooter dropping their firearm while trying to quickly reload.
Best case scenario: you drop the pistol before quickly recovering it. Worst case: after losing control of the gun, your would-be attacker now has possession of it.
The best solution to this is for a shooter to practice reloading under duress at the range with live fire, and at home with snap caps. When under extreme stress, humans fall back on old habits and training.
But given how inexpensive both of these components are, it makes sense to double down and install these if a shooter has a difficult time reaching any of the Glock’s controls. I will add one caveat though. If a shooter has particularly large hands, they should shy away from the extended magazine release simply because they may accidentally depress while firing. Though in all the time I’ve taught shooters how to shoot, I’ve only had one individual with large enough hands for this to be an issue. Swing by https://store.teamglock.com/gun-parts for more information.
Illumination: StreamLight TLR-8A Flex
The next addition to our pistol is definitely the most expensive, but arguably one of the most important – illumination. After all, it’s impossible to reliably hit something a shooter can’t see.
Before I go into why I choose this tactical light, there’s an elephant in the room that needs addressing. Utilizing a weapon-mounted light is a clear violation of firearm safety rule number 2, “Never aim at something you’re not prepared to destroy.”
They are partially correct. If a shooter aims their weapon-mounted tactical light at a potential threat, they are in fact aiming a firearm at a possibly innocent target. Some people suggest aiming off to the side of a target, or using an independent hand-held light. The latter of which negates the largest advantage of using a handgun for home defense over a shoulder-fired one. Namely, freeing up a hand to open doors, flip lights or grab loved ones.
The academic arm-chair answers to this problem are numerous. But the real-life answer is more circumstantial and common sense. If a shooter awakens to the sound of breaking glass followed by loud voices and heavy footsteps at two in the morning, it’s probably not the Girl Scouts making a Thin Mint delivery. In other words, use your head, think rationally and act accordingly. A bullet is forever.
With that out of the way, let’s get back to the weapon light itself. I recommend the new Streamlight TLR-8A Flex. Both the TLR-7A and 8A series of lights emit 500 lumens of retina-searing bright white light from their LED emitters. The 8A differs from the 7A with the inclusion of an adjustable red laser sight.
While the older, “non-A” models of TLR-7/8 have identical performance, I still prefer the newer models because of the interchangeable rear switches. These allow shooters to configure the switches to best fit their shooting grip and hand size. Also, like all TLR lights, these new Flex models include six different mounting plates. So the light can be positioned perfectly on any pistol with an accessory rail.
Finally, the reason I suggest the model with a laser sight is human nature. When confronted with a possible threat, we humans want to keep our eyes locked firmly on it. So while accurate shooting is dependent on proper sight alignment, in the middle of a violent confrontation it’s easy to forget fundamentals. The laser gives the shooter a visible confirmation that their muzzle is aimed squarely on target. For more info, including pricing and availability, visit www.StreamLight.com
Arguably the Achilles heel of semi-automatic weapons, the magazine is one of the most crucial components of a firearm. If the magazine doesn’t feed reliably, it quickly turns any autoloader into an awkward single-shot weapon.
In the world of Glock magazines, there are some enormously capacious offerings available. 100-round drums. Most aftermarket magazines work just fine, but some of them have spotty reliability.
If a shooter is using their handgun for home defense, the last thing they want if pushed into a gunfight is a malfunction. That’s why they should run whatever the highest capacity they can that is still flawlessly reliable.
One great option is the Glock 19x extended magazine. In my personal experience, the most reliable cost-effective magazine extension is the factory Glock +2. As the name implies, it adds two rounds to the total capacity of a given stagger-column Glock magazine.
The reason shooters should go with a model 17 magazine over others, is that it is universally compatible with all 9mm Glock pistols except the single-stack 43. With a base capacity of 17 rounds, the +2 brings your Glock to 19+1 rounds of 9mm ammo that doesn’t add too much bulk or weight to the gun. For home defense duty, shooters should purchase at least two magazines, and ideally three. This ensures that extra ammunition is readily available, and reduces the amount of downtime spent loading magazines when training at the range.
When it comes to picking defensive ammunition, there are three aspects of the cartridge design that determine whether it is suitable for self-defense. Expansion, penetration, and retention.
An ideal self-defense round expands to a greater diameter than the original round, penetrates at least 12 inches of ballistic gelatin, and retains as much of the original projectile mass as possible.
Additionally, the round should be accurate, consistently loaded and not impede reliability. This is why Hornady’s 135gr Critical Duty is my ammunition of choice for home defense and concealed carry.
Designed to meet the FBI standards for penetrating automotive glass while still properly expanding in tissue, the 9mm Critical Duty rounds check all the right boxes. The 135gr rounds are loaded extra hot and feature nickel-plated cases for increased resistance to corrosion.
But the star of the show is the little red polymer ball at the tip of the round. This Flex Tip fills the FlexLock hollow point cavity to prevent premature expansion and under penetration. So even if your would-be attacker is wearing a double layer denim jacket, the round will reliably reach vital organs with proper shot placement.
Another noteworthy feature is the crimped case and cannelured bullet to prevent setback when the round is repeatedly chambered. In fact, the only downside to the round that I’ve ever heard, is that in SMG or larger capacity magazines, the added friction of the polymer tips can jam magazines. But after firing a thousand rounds of the ammunition through dozens of guns that are rarely cleaned or oiled, I have yet to encounter this issue. More info is available over at Brownells.
With the exception of the Streamlight TLR-8A, none of these upgrades cost more than $100. But if a shooter simply can’t afford them, the most critical addition for home defense is proper expanding ammunition.
The good news is that none of these upgrades increase reliability, because the Glock is already damn near perfect in that regard. As for as a great all-around firearm, shooters would be hard-pressed to pick a better handgun than a 9mm Glock.
Ultimately, the most important part of the home defense puzzle is the shooter and their mindset. A strong will to survive can make all the difference in the world, even with a sub-standard defense weapon. But when the stakes are life and death, hedging your bets with these upgrades just makes sense. After all, no one ever won a fair fight.
Stay tuned for part two of the Home Defense Glock Build, where we crank our polymer pistol to eleven.
About Jim Grant
Jim is a freelance writer, editor and videographer for dozens of publications who loves anything and everything guns. While partial to modern military firearms and their civilian counterparts, he holds a special place in his heart for the greatest battle implement ever devised and other WW2 rifles. When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina lowcountry.